Watermelon Tossing

watermelon toss

Most libertarians are generally thinkers. We have a number of scenarios like the flagpole and lifeboat. This is my contribution.

There are four people standing on an overpass over a freeway. These four men, Bill, Sam, Jack & David each take turns throwing a melon off the overpass.

  • Bill’s intention when he tossed the melon was to play a funny prank and have the watermelon land on the hood of a car and frighten the driver, but not to cause any property damage or harm to anyone.
    • Fortunately, Bill completely missed the vehicle and the driver did not even know that a watermelon had been tossed.
  • When Sam threw his watermelon, he hoped that it would land on the windshield and break the windshield and kill the driver, causing the car to swerve off of a big bank and crash while catching on fire and burning everyone inside the vehicle.
    • Sam’s aim was true and his desired result was achieved.
  • When Jack threw his watermelon, he did it with the same intention that Bill had, just intending a fun and harmless prank.
    • Unfortunately, Jack’s watermelon did not miss the vehicle and instead hit the windshield, killing the driver and causing the vehicle to go off of an embankment and catch on fire and burn everyone inside.
  • David threw his watermelon, with the same intent that Sam threw his, he wanted death and destruction.
    • Fortunately, David was a horrible shot and completely missed the vehicle, causing no damage and the driver never even knew that a watermelon had been tossed.

Assume that all parties involved had signed a contract naming YOU as the judge-arbiter. They had agreed that all punitive matters involving the freeway and overpass were your jurisdiction and that you could use your best judgement in assigning penalties except capital punishment. Sam and Jack have already paid for “damages” so your role is solely to punish. Fines of any amount, time in a cage and other punitive measures are up to you. What do you do?

Libertarian scenario